Donald explores how a royal seal of approval from Louis XV heralded a shift in the composer's activities away from the Parisian stage to mounting spectacular performances at court.
A royal seal of approval from Louis XV sees a shift in Jean-Philippe Rameau's activities away from the Parisian stage to mounting spectacular performances at court.
Controversy was never far away from Jean-Philippe Rameau. He lived a long life, in the thick of the lively cultural and aesthetic debates that erupted in France after music was freed from Jean-Baptiste Lully's artistic monopoly. An octogenarian at his death in 1764, Rameau was by then a prosperous and successful opera composer. Unlike his contemporaries, Bach, Handel and Scarlatti, Rameau was something of a later starter. Born in Dijon, he spent the first part of his life in the provinces, working in relative obscurity. He didn't make his name until the age of 50 when he conquered the stage in Paris. What followed was a remarkable burst of creativity, amounting to about a hundred works, in addition to the prolific publication of original theoretical writing.
Celebrations for the wedding of Louis XV's eldest son to the Spanish Infanta resulted in Jean-Philippe Rameau's comic masterpiece, Platée and two other major commissions for the court. Thereafter more than half of his stage works were intended for court, where he was given generous resources. Today, Dr. Jonathan Williams from The Rameau Project joins Donald Macleod once again, to discuss the instrumental forces Rameau drew on to create his unique and brilliant orchestral sound.